12 December 2010

+JMJ+

Punk Catholic Thought of the Week XVIII



Behold the Popemobile!

Did you know that no matter how much research you do before you buy a car, you'll read more about your brand and model after you've bought it? This has something to do with convincing yourself that, yes, you bought the right car, after all. Ever since car marketers discovered this, they've spent millions of dollars each year just to make people feel good about their cars.

Now let's talk about similar marketing that goes on to make Catholics feel good about the Catholic Church.


Behold the Sedia Gestatoria!
(That's the Latin for "Popemobile")

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with feeling good about being Catholic, in the same way that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with feeling good about owning a good car. But both are completely subjective; we can do without them entirely.

Sometimes we feel bad about being Catholic--or ashamed--or even angry. Sometimes we don't really think about it at all. None of this changes anything--and it certainly doesn't mean we're any better or any worse than fellow Catholics who are walking, talking, annoying (but that's also subjective) press releases.

Furthermore, there's a trap in wanting to feel good all the time, especially when it comes to the shadier parts of the Church. A few weeks ago, my friend Betty Duffy wrote of listening to a historian put the Inquisition in perspective: it wasn't responsible for millions of deaths, but a mere 3000--or if you want more perspective, a piddling average of twelve per year. Her response: "What about that is supposed to make me feel better?"

Well, all Catholics could stand to feel a little better about an event that is often thrown in our faces--and which none of us alive today has the power to change. And objectively, three thousand is better than millions: the hard facts, especially, are always better than majorly exaggerated figures. By all means, let us put history in perspective . . . just not the perspective of one who wants desperately to feel good about being Catholic.

The Church is what She is, folks. She doesn't need our marketing as much as we ourselves do.

Image Sources: a) Popemobile, b) Sedia Gestatoria

6 comments:

Belfry Bat said...

I like popemobili.

I also recognize that one human deliberately burned to death every month is a sad tale of misguided enthusiasm at best.

Another nifty point of context, though, is that the Spanish inquisition is so-called because it remained, essentially, within Spain and in fact was instigated at behest of the Spanish Crown. And so answering to the Spanish Crown rather than the Holy See, one should pause before blaming the Church for what the World has done to its own.

Furthermore, inquisitions of any sort were invented to forestall exuberant peasantry from lynching and burning etc. folk who might have been weird or Jews but otherwise innocent of any blood crime (like poisoning wells or selling themselves into Satan's service for the torment of their neighbors).

Do I sound like a walking press release?

Oh, when you say "do without them entirely", you mean feeling good in either circumstance, right? So far I can do without a car, let alone feeling good about having one, but Catholic... wouldn't give it up for the whole world!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I really can't speak for other people, Bat, but the most "comforting" thing for me is the fact that atheists are responsible for a bigger body count. The Catholic Church may be bad, but another group is worse!

I'm just tired of denying the badness--which is what so many Catholics seem to be doing, for the aforementioned silly reason.

But I won't deny the editing tip! The confusing sentence in my post could be rewritten: "But both feelings are completely subjective . . ."

Michael said...

@Belfry Bat

Another nifty point of context, though, is that the Spanish inquisition is so-called because it remained, essentially, within Spain and in fact was instigated at behest of the Spanish Crown.

There are so many countless times where this is the case when one examines the facts up close.

I was recently reading a book on the lives of the married saints throughout the centuries and one thing that stood out, for those who were martyred, is how most of them lost their lives at the hands of the state.

@Enbrethiliel

I really can't speak for other people, Bat, but the most "comforting" thing for me is the fact that atheists are responsible for a bigger body count. The Catholic Church may be bad, but another group is worse!

That ain't even the half of it (pardon my grammar).

According to R.J Rummel's Death By Government in the last century, apart from wars and “collateral” damage, 262,000,000 died at the hands of the state.

Simply incomprehensible.

“Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5', then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century.”
Power Kills

Most of that state sanctioned killing was not done by people connected to the Church in any way. In fact, from 1931 to 1935, 30,000,000 Christians were murdered for their faith in the former USSR. That is more Christians than died in the 19 preceding centuries combined worldwide!

Now we are starting to discover that the numbers for China may even be worse.

Even atheists are recognizing that the Church (broadly speaking) is not the really bad guy in the world, and for those committed to freedom, actually their ally.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Oh, we welcome warm colloquialisms here! Your grammar is pardoned!

Those are sobering numbers, indeed--and much worse than I thought they would be. I mean, I knew that more Christians have been martyred in the twentieth century than in the nineteen previous centuries, but I hadn't realised that the martyrdoms in a single part of the world, over a period of four freaking years, pretty much took care of the record. As you've said: simply incomprehensible.

Dorian Speed said...

I don't stop by here often enough, but I wanted to say:

1. Good post, and
2. I really like your banner.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Thank you, Dorian! =)